The weekend of Saturday, September 8, 2012 is a date Liberians across the country and abroad will again forever remember. Along with Chief Patron of Sports Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, when their hope was very high for the realization of Liberia’s dream for the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa, a ‘simple mistake’ on the part of Liberian football administrators may have dashed such hope.
Despite the agility, courage and patriotism redeveloped by players of the National Team of Liberia, the Lone Star, especially from the commencement of the second 45-minutes of play at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, the National Flag bearers could only manage a 2-2 draw against the Super Eagles of Nigeria on home soil.
While we may have experienced technical inadequacies in our vital defense department resulting to a lead by the Nigerians in the early minutes of the first half of the match following the curtain raiser by the Lone Star, the boys must be hailed for the exuberance rekindled upon their return to the playing pitch. Nigeria, playing with full strength and big names, could only find themselves in disarray when the Lone Star went on the rampage, seizing the midfield and dislodging them.
As we shower our boys with all of the warm platitudes, we must equally register our disappointment with the technical staff on decision-making in the match. Being very cognizant of the problem in the team’s defense, they failed to solve the problem until the final injury suffered by Defender Omega Roberts.
In our opinion, in such a crucial international encounter on home soil, those technically handling the team must have done everything efficiently possible to keep the Nigerian forward at bay when the first, second and third threats were made before the equalizer.
Even though Coach Cletus Smith and staff sincerely deserve our commendation for assessing and ratifying our defensive short-comings, we can only hope that in future matches, their decisions on the field of play would be as urgent, efficient and effective as necessarily possible as we always watch of manager Mourino of Real Madrid.
Frustratingly, the necessary administrative mechanisms on the part of those who run the game in Liberia was never evidenced on the field of play, and as a result Center referee Koulubali and his assistants either ignored or robbed the Lone star of so many scoring opportunities. It is only God’s Grace that we can hope for in the return leg, scheduled for Calabar the same old Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
Knowing what the Nigerians are made of, it is matter of must, and by ‘hook or crook’ that they defeat they Lone star in the return match to overcome the disgrace and international ‘bad-mouthing’ they continue to face after failing twice to appear at the African Cup of Nations.
In addition to the foregoing, the Nigerians will ensure that players of the Lone star are humiliated in all manners and forms as was done in Port Harcourt a few years ago. Despite all of the hospitable gestures according the Nigerians previously and now, they would still reciprocate only because of the quest to qualify for South Africa 2013.
And if Musa Bility and his LFA mean well for Liberia whose citizens, including President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf overwhelmingly supported the Lone Star for its Saturday, September 8 encounter, they would ensure that our boys are not mistreated by the Nigerians as before. They must ensure that the issues of the team’s security, hotel accommodation, transportation, food and drinking water are addressed and not to allow the Nigerians to do it all. This goes to say that the physical involvement of Liberia, probably through an advance team must be in place.
Mr. Bility and others must understand that considering the classical performance of the Lone Star, especially during the second half of last Saturday, the Nigerians are already threatened to play the return leg in all manners and forms, including “off and on-the-field” to demoralize and frustrate our boys in order to qualify.
As we wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts and interventions of President Sirleaf, we also pray that the Almighty God will inspire her in also intervening in the return leg by ensuring that our boys are not maltreated. The government must ensure that our boys are accommodated not far from the Calabar stadium for easy access to the field of play.
We hail our National Flag Bearers and the technical staff; we hail the Chief Patron of Sports President Sirleaf; we also hail the thousands and thousands of Liberians who attended the match; and we hail the Lone Star Mobilization Committee headed by Representative Edwin Snowe for the spirit of nationalism exhibited before and during last Saturday’s match at the SKD Sports Complex.
All Hail Liberia hail.